In no area of developmental pediatric practice is there more controversy regarding the choice of treatment than related to children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). Complementary and alternative medical therapies (CAM) are often elected because they are perceived as treating the cause of symptoms rather than the symptoms themselves. CAM used for autism can be divided by proposed mechanism: immune modulation, gastrointestinal, supplements that affect neurotransmitter function, and nonbiologic intervention. Secretin as a therapy for autism is discussed as an example of how a clinical observation rapidly grew to a widespread treatment before well-designed studies demonstrated absence of effect. The plausibility for behavioral effect was not substantiated by clinical studies. CAM used for treatment of autism is examined in terms of rationale, evidence of efficacy, side effects, and additional commentary. Families and clinicians need access to well-designed clinical evidence to assist them in choice of therapies. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc. MRDD Research Reviews 2005;11:131–142.